Jan 27, 2023 Newsdesk Latest News, Macau, Top of the deck
Some Macau casinos visited by GGRAsia on Thursday, actually had tables that were closed, notwithstanding strong consumer demand during Chinese New Year (CNY).
The reasons for some tables being closed, were not clear, though Macau labour groups recently mentioned to GGRAsia that it was challenging for the industry to ramp back up to workforce capacity, following three years of depressed demand during the Covid-19 pandemic, and associated travel restrictions, with some gaming floor workers having been assigned to other departments.
But the majority of the tables that were open at the properties visited – i.e. the bulk of their inventory – were dealing baccarat games in bets of at least HKD500 (about US$64), with many table minimums at least HKD1,000.
GGRAsia’s first observations were on Thursday morning, in the downtown casino district on Macau peninsula, with visits to Grand Lisboa, Wynn Macau, MGM Macau, and StarWorld Hotel.
Mass floors were busy, but high-limit play areas less so. Grand Lisboa had some HKD100 sic bo tables, but most baccarat games on the venues’ mass floors were either HKD500 or HKD1,000 minimums. StarWorld had some HKD300 baccarat tables. At the Lakeside casino section at Wynn Macau, tables were not full, although most bets were HKD2,000 to HKD3,000, with some as high as HKD10,000. Slot occupancy was modest. MGM Macau’s main floor was moderately busy, with minimums mostly in the range HKD2,000 to HKD3,000. Slots and electronic gaming tables were also busy.
On Thursday afternoon, observation of Cotai resorts Galaxy Macau, the Venetian Macao and City of Dreams, indicated strong player traffic, with mass-floor minimums mostly in the range of HKD1,000 to HKD2,000. High-limit areas visible from the main floors, were less busy.
At Galaxy Macau, mass-floor baccarat limits ranged from HKD500 to HKD3,000, but most tables were set at either HKD1,000 or HKD2,000, and the latter range had robust traffic. High-limit zones visible from the main floor were denominated from HKD3,000 up to HKD5,000, and were moderately busy. Occupancy at slot areas was also moderate.
Much of the Venetian Macao main floor was busy, with most baccarat games priced between HKD1,000 and HKD3,000, though most custom was focused on the HKD1,000 and HKD2,000 tables. There was a number of HKD100 sic bo tables, and they were crowded.
City of Dreams across the road, was busy, though less so than either the Venetian Macao or Galaxy Macau; and some tables were not in use. Main-floor baccarat minimum bets ranged from HKD1,000 to HKD5,000, with play heaviest at the HKD1,000 and HKD2,000 tables. A number of sic bo and craps tables with lower limits, was also well populated.
‘Strong momentum’: Sands boss
The latest Chinese New Year holiday was the first festive break following the easing of most of Macau’s travel restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Robert Goldstein, chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp, parent of the Venetian Macao’s operator Sands China Ltd, had mentioned on the group’s fourth-quarter earnings call on Wednesday, that the firm was seeing “strong” momentum in its Macau operations during the holiday period, with high customer volume.
Table games were running at “95 percent to 100 percent capacity”, as were slots and electronic table games, said Mr Goldstein.
Macau welcomed about 387,300 visitors in aggregate in the first six days of the Chinese New Year holiday. Of that tally, about 58 percent – or 225,903 visitor arrivals – were from mainland China, according to official data. Another 37 percent – or 141,610 visitor arrivals – were from Hong Kong.
In a Wednesday note, brokerage JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd had cautioned that visitor arrival tally alone had not “accurately” indicated the level of casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) in the past, while noting that the vast majority of Chinese New Year gaming volumes had occurred on days four to six of the holiday period in previous times.
In the same note, JP Morgan cited industry checks that indicated a “50 percent plus” recovery in mass gaming revenue, compared to the Chinese New Year period of 2019, was “certainly doable”.
China’s State Council designated the latest holiday period for mainland residents as January 21, a Saturday, to January 27, a Friday, inclusive. The festive break in Hong Kong – another important source market for Macau’s tourists – was designated as running from January 23 to January 25.
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Total number of visitor arrivals to Macau in February